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Ranking the moderate Disney World resorts – PREP081

Ranking the moderate Disney World resorts – PREP081

I just got back from staying at the last of the Disney World Moderate Resorts so today I have my rankings for all of them.

I also have a quick tip about why it makes sense to show up last minute to some of the shows at Disney World.


These are notes from this episode. There’s much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

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Common characteristics between all moderates

All Disney World Moderate Resorts have beautiful grounds, well-themed buildings, rooms that open up to outdoor corridors, and food courts.

All of the resorts except French Quarter also have multiple internal bus stops (7 at Caribbean Beach, 5 at Coronado Springs, and 4 at Riverside), an on-site restaurant, and Preferred Rooms you can book.

My rankings

#4 – Caribbean Beach Resort
We just returned from staying at Caribbean Beach which had great staff, beautiful landscaping, a view of Illuminations from the beach areas, and the ability for families of up to 5 to stay. However, it’s also logistically difficult with 7 internal bus stops and having the check in/out building separate from the main building, a bad on-site restaurant, and the least value for a Preferred Room.

#3 – Coronado Springs Resort
We spent spring break of 2014 here and it definitely has a more grown-up feel than other resorts, particularly because it’s a convention hotel that caters to that group more than families. The Preferred Rooms here are a fairly good value but don’t put you close to the main pool. This resort has extra amenities that are not offered as other moderates such as an on-site salon, health club, and business class (concierge) option for rooms.

#2 – Port Orleans French Quarter
The small size of this resort means that everything is more convenient but it doesn’t offer as many amenities as a larger resort. For me, the things it lacks (such as an on-site restaurant) are easily made up for by heading next door to Riverside. There is a boat to Downtown Disney which is a nice option. There’s only 1 bus stop here which is often convenient, but buses are sometimes shared with Riverside.

#1 – Port Orleans Riverside
With the best value for a Preferred Room, ability for families of up to 5 to stay here, the boat to Downtown Disney, good food court and on-site restaurant, this is my favorite of the moderates. The reputation for transportation being difficult here is well-deserved, but Disney is working on making that easier. People with a car will find it even more convenient (though I don’t recommend driving to Magic Kingdom since the buses can deliver you to the front of the park).

Free Dining
No discussion of Moderate Resorts would be complete without mentioning Free Dining. During the Free Dining promotion, Moderate Resorts get the Basic Disney Dining Plan for free, just like the Deluxe Resorts, so Moderate Resorts are the best bang-for-the-buck.

However, the Port Orleans resorts are usually excluded from the general public offer (but are often included in individual PIN code offers or bounceback offers). Families of 5 will need to stay at Caribbean Beach Resort, while others should decide if Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs are better suited for their families.

Quick tip of the day

Some of the shows at Disney World have a better view from the back and it often makes sense to show up to those last minute rather than waiting in line far ahead of time. For instance, I usually slip in to Fantasmic just 5-10 minutes before it begins. Another example is the Finding Nemo show at Animal Kingdom which is easier to watch from the back.

Have a quick tip of your own? Call it in at

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Thursday 28th of February 2019

One important considering when ranking the moderate resorts is that Caribbean Beach and the bayou section of Riverside don't have elevators. That knocks both of them off of my list of places where I (can) will stay.

If you're disabled, pushing a stroller, or just don't feel like climbing stairs after walking miles in a park all day, you might to look for a different resort.


Monday 17th of September 2018

We are planning a stay at Port Orleans Riverside the first week of May, 2019. I am surprised to see such limited room availability that week. Any guesses as to why? Is this due to the construction at the other moderate resorts? Is availability likely to improve or should I grab what I can get?


Monday 18th of April 2016

We just returned from a trip to Port Orleans Riverside and we are in love! We had an unexpected extra day and rather than going to a park, we spent it at the resort! We fished, had lunch at the pool bar, played at the arcade (again), went swimming (again), and rode the boat to Disney Springs (again)! Transportation was the biggest "con" in the pro/con list. The boat was awesome but the busses were crowded, uncomfortable, and not quite frequent enough. We also had two very unusual housekeeping issues - something missed in cleaning and a misunderstanding of our check out time. But everything else was beyond perfect and exceeded expectations! Thanks for making this your #1 pick!


Friday 19th of June 2015

We have stayed at CBR three times in the last 6 years. We always travel to WDW by car, like approximately 70% of visitors do. The Custom House is not an issue when you have a car. During our trips, I have been able to handle issues right in Old Port Royale without need to go to Custom House. We stayed at POR trip before last and decided we prefer CBR.


Wednesday 25th of March 2015

We are a family of 5 booked at Port Orleans Riverside in October. We were hoping to get Free Dining on our trip. Do you suggest booking something else?